HC Deb 12 June 2000 vol 351 cc619-21
1. Gillian Merron (Lincoln)

What steps he has taken to assess the equity of the distribution of lottery awards across the country. [123668]

The Minister for Sport (Kate Hoey)

We require distributors to take into account the need to ensure that all parts of the country have access to funding and the need to reduce economic and social deprivation. We monitor lottery awards given to each constituency and remain keen to encourage a fairer distribution of funding across the country.

Gillian Merron

Will my hon. Friend ensure that the distributing bodies press ahead with redressing imbalances throughout the country, so that Lincoln people can see the gap close between the welcome £9.5 million that they have so far received and the national average of £11.9 million?

Kate Hoey

Yes, that is exactly why we set up the report into lottery funding for coalfield areas and former mining communities. Last week my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a package of measures designed to ensure that those areas receive greater benefit from national lottery money. We have to try to get more equitable funding, while recognising that some areas of greater economic and social deprivation have not been as proactive as they might have been about getting their forms filled in and so attracting benefit from the lottery. Now, with the new powers under the National Lottery Act 1998, we are seeing changes and increases; it is all about equity.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

Further to the point that I made at the Department's previous Question Time, has the Minister had time to consider the amount and proportion of funds going to outer London boroughs? Understandably, much of the money that goes to London goes to great national institutions, and although we accept that the quality of applications is an important factor, there is a feeling among those living on the outskirts of London that we are not being dealt with correctly.

Kate Hoey

I understand how the hon. Gentleman feels. The amount of money that has gone to my constituency of Vauxhall seems huge, because it has several major tourist attractions along the River Thames; however, little money has gone into community projects. Furthermore, if a constituency contains the head office of an organisation, that constituency is credited with having received the money given to the organisation, even if it is spent in many other places and none is spent in the constituency itself.

Helen Jones (Warrington, North)

My hon. Friend touches on an important point about how we assess the sums that go to each constituency. Will she discuss with the National Lottery Charities Board how it arrives at its figures? Many of the grants included in figures sent to me were made not in my constituency but in that of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Watts). Although I have no objection to my hon. Friend's constituency receiving grants, I would prefer that they were not included in the allocation for my constituency. Will my hon. Friend the Minister also examine the assessment of ticket sales, whereby tickets sales in town centres are often allocated to only one constituency, even though they are bought by people from several neighbouring constituencies?

Kate Hoey

As I said, I fully understand hon. Members' concerns. It is frustrating to be told that one's constituency is receiving a lot of money when one knows that it is not, in fact, going there. Such matters will be the subject of our on-going discussions and of the negotiations surrounding the award of the new franchise. The ticket-buying public want to know where their money goes, and they want the figures to be clear and objective; similarly, we as Members of Parliament want to know what is happening in our constituencies.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

First, will the Minister join me in wishing the England team all success in Euro 2000, and echo our hope for a peaceful, trouble-free tournament?

On the question of lottery funding, does the hon. Lady agree with the recent comments of the vice-chairman of Sport England, Des Wilson? He says that because of the Government's raid on the lottery and the recent decline in ticket sales, many community organisations that could have taken a positive reply for granted five years back will now be disappointed. The money just won't be there. Is not the truth that the Government's abuse of the lottery and total abandonment of the arm's-length and additionality principles will rob sports clubs throughout the country, especially those in areas that have done less well, of support for important projects that they could reasonably have expected to receive by now?

Kate Hoey

Of course I join the hon. Gentleman in sending the England team our best wishes for their first match tonight—and, indeed, for the whole tournament. We are especially keen for the tournament to be free of trouble, and for our supporters to represent our country in the best possible manner.

I believe that the hon. Gentleman has misquoted the vice-chairman of Sport England. I heard Des Wilson speak on Radio 5 just a few hours after that quote came out, and he did not say that. I remind the hon. Gentleman that when the lottery was set up five years ago, it was said that about £1.8 billion would go to sport over the first seven years of the contract. That was guaranteed. In fact, the sum will be increased. The hon. Gentleman can talk about percentages and new developments, but the amount going to sport over the seven years will be more than was originally promised. In addition, some of the money from the new opportunities fund goes directly to after-school activities related to sport. Of course, we want more people to play the lottery, because if people do not buy tickets, there will be no money for any of the good causes.

Forward to